Fabulous Old-Time Cookies
A Brief History of Cookies
By Shane Bryan
The first cookies were created entirely by accident. Early Dutch bakers
used small amounts of cake batter to test their oven temperature before
baking their cake. These little test cakes were called “koekje” which
means “little cakes” in Dutch. This is where the word “cookie”
Cookies are known by many names around the world. In the United Kingdom
and Australia they are called biscuits or shortbread. In Spain they’re
called galletas. In France they’re known as sables and macaroons. When
visiting Germany you will have to look for keks or kels to satisfy your
cookie craving. Italy has several names to identify various forms of
cookies including amaretti and biscotti.
The first cookies in the United States were brought over by English,
Scotch and Dutch immigrants. Early cookies were called by many puzzling
and whimsical names including Jumbles, Plunkets and Cry Babies. The
Southern colonial housewife took great pride in her cookies, almost
always called “tea cakes”. These were often flavored with nothing more
than the finest butter, sometimes with the addition of a few drops or
In America and Canada, the favorite cookie is the chocolate chip
cookie. Today, more than half the cookies baked in American homes are
chocolate chip. You might be surprised to know that the chocolate chip
cookie was also an accident.
Ruth Wakefield ran the Toll House Inn, with her husband, near Whitman,
Massachusetts. The Inn was run like a bed and breakfast so she also
cooked for her guests. One day in 1937, Ruth found herself without the
baker’s chocolate she needed for her cookies. So she chopped a bar of
semisweet chocolate into pieces and stirred them into her cookie dough.
She though the chocolate would melt and spread throughout the dough.
Instead the chocolate bits held their shape. She had an instant hit.
The chocolate chip cookie was born.
Ruth went on to reach a business deal with Nestle. The agreement
allowed Nestle to print the recipe on their chocolate bar. According to
the story, part of the agreement included supplying Ruth with all the
chocolate she could use for the rest of her life. In 1939, the
chocolate morsels that we know today were introduced.
Below is the original toll house recipe. It hasn’t changed much over
Mrs. Wakefields Original
Toll House Cookie Recipe
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a
small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla
extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time,
beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir
in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking
sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking
sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!
This has been a very brief history of cookies. If you are interested in
learning much more about the history of cookies check out the article
This article goes into much greater detail and includes the history of
more old favorites like Biscotti, Ladyfingers, Macaroons and more.
This article was
taken from my new book “Fabulous Old-Time Cookies.” Now
you can bake delicious cookies just like grandma used to make. This
filled with 228 American heirloom cookies and old-world favorites. Plus, it is
just packed with baking tips, quotes and food trivia.To
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